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Multiple Main Characters!


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#21 Wish

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 12:48 PM

Yeah, my novel has the narrative balanced between two guys, but the Query only mentions one, and the Synopsis makes the other guy out to be kind of secondary. Like, "A is doing this, while meanwhile B is up to this..." while in fact both guys get more or less equal page time during that section of the book.

So my thought is to pick a favorite, easy for me, because these guys are probably 60/40 in terms of content. If you've got a legit 50/50 balance going on, flip a coin.

#22 Tanya Reimer

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 08:25 PM

Thank God for you guys. You all gave me hope again. I was on Query Shark snooping for ideas for just this topic and one comment was actually something like 3POV=no story. Cripes, I was sick to read that, like go to the bathroom and vomit right now sick. Why would anyone think that?
Like Robin, I started and ended my story with a different POV from the two that make up the core of the novel. There is a reason we do this and it comes together magically, but how to write this in a 250 words query without begging for a form rejection letter?

So here are my thoughts after a full day of diggging around, and working my way in to a depression-- only to be saved by your happy insights. Thank you!

Ask yourself the basic questions you need to answer in a query-- What is the problem? What choices will be made in reaction to this problem? What are the consequences of these choices? Now do that for each main character or POV (depends on your work). They interveve, right? Like in Eli's example. So now either pull it together like Eli did by focusing on one MC, or group the characters where they share points.

EX: Warriors like Jack and Jill are for damage control. (The problem that unites them) (the choices that separate them and make them sympathetic, real...). You get the idea.

Who gave queries this much power, eh?
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#23 Rowanwolf

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 09:34 PM

Wow wish I had read this thread earlier. I finally figured this out kinda on my own.

I have 2 main MCs and a love interest (who is pivotal in the movement of the plot). I boiled it down recently to 1 MC with mention of the other two chars for my query and though I almost feel like I'm "lying" about the plot without more depth of the extra MCs, the query is a lot more dramatic and tempting. So, I'm learning to fish, too.

Thanks for the great insights. I am about to start the synopsis part next. I had heard of 2 kinds of synopses: 1 page length (like an expanded query) and 1 that encompasses all main plot shifts which would be more than 1 page. Do all of you folks have both? or just one kind?

Or, perhaps I should post this in a separate topic?

#24 Jean Oram

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 10:04 PM

I am about to start the synopsis part next. I had heard of 2 kinds of synopses: 1 page length (like an expanded query) and 1 that encompasses all main plot shifts which would be more than 1 page. Do all of you folks have both? or just one kind?

Or, perhaps I should post this in a separate topic?


There is a synopsis critique group where you could post a synopsis type question. Or here works too since you are going to send off the synopsis with the query. Whichever.

But to answer your question, the synopsis should include the main plot points whether it is one page or ten. (I'm talking the top three plot points kind of thing and not all the little bits that tag along.)

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#25 suzannepayne

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 10:38 PM

This makes SO much sense! No wonder we're all having such a hard time with keeping our queries down to 250 words...we're trying to put more than one main character and tell what they do and how they grow or change throughout the book...it's too much...
Thank you thank you, Eli...I think with a few good tries, I can get this to work. :

#26 Max Hawker

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 03:41 AM

My novel follows the POV of no fewer than seven different characters, although they don't all receive the same level of attention as each other - think Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres. My advice for your cover letter and synopsis would be as follows: if you had to kill all your characters, leaving only those who have a heavy impact upon the plot, who would you be left with? For me, I'd be left with three - one of those being my main character, and the other two being those who drastically affect my main character and the plot. When you've done that, focus your query on the 'surviving' characters, as they will be the ones the agent needs to know about. Other than that, I'd endeavour to focus on one key character the reader will primarily engage with, and at the end of the synopsis, write a brief paragraph explaining that your novel is multi-POV. See my synopsis, 'Breaking the Foals', to get an idea of what I mean. Hope that helps!

#27 JayMG

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 04:25 AM

Great advice all round - esp yours, Eli.

I have 2 main characters who share the narrative, as well as secondary characters whose stories are told in 3rd person. I'm still perfecting my query and synopsis but I've narrowed it down to focusing on the character who has the most 'action'. One of my main characters' story is told mainly in memory and flashback, whereas the other is more solidly based in the present day and actually advances the action in a physical way. Once I had a 'duh' moment about that, it was much easier to concentrate on the more active character. They're both involved in the query and synopsis but the emphasis seems much clearer now.

#28 Dorothy

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:07 AM

Redwood,
I have three main characters who are so locked in together in telling the story. What I did...(not that my query letter is what I could call a succes yet) :humph:I've kind of lied. The father comes up first in the story so I stayed with him for the whole two hundred words. Whew! Yes, I mention the other character(s) but I did not stray from his central post IN THE QUERY. In the synopsis which I am still working on, I'm finding that I am still doing this. If I try to bring the son and other fellow in for their proper 'due' it starts to sound a little soap opera-ish... You know - Meanwhile, back on the farm, etc.
Basically, I'm trying to say I feel your pain. Is you query/synopsis up for perusal right now?
GDE

#29 Eli Ashpence

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 03:22 PM

Wow. I didn't think this thread would come back to life when I linked it. :tongue:

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#30 RC Lewis

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 04:27 PM

Wow. I didn't think this thread would come back to life when I linked it. :tongue:

You didn't know that linking is like a defibrillator for dead-threads? :biggrin:

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#31 Mike Young

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 05:12 PM

This was really helpful. I just wish I had read it before I started my query.

#32 redwood

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:00 PM

Redwood,
I have three main characters who are so locked in together in telling the story. What I did...(not that my query letter is what I could call a succes yet) :humph:I've kind of lied. The father comes up first in the story so I stayed with him for the whole two hundred words. Whew! Yes, I mention the other character(s) but I did not stray from his central post IN THE QUERY. In the synopsis which I am still working on, I'm finding that I am still doing this. If I try to bring the son and other fellow in for their proper 'due' it starts to sound a little soap opera-ish... You know - Meanwhile, back on the farm, etc.
Basically, I'm trying to say I feel your pain. Is you query/synopsis up for perusal right now?



So surprised to see this thread: I had forgotten all about it. :laugh: I see the multiple main character problem lives on! I don't write queries anymore as I am self publishing. Very difficult problem for complex stories, trying to engage an agent and follow all the query rules. I feel your pain too! I been there, sista! (and brothas). I wish you all good luck though in figuring it out.
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The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011

#33 Candyland

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 06:11 PM

Ali-

Thank you so much! In all of the advice I've read on AQ about queries, this is the best. I copied post# 13 and 18 so I can keep it where I can see it when the time comes. Genius!

I had written a query and realized I had mentioned everyone! Now I understand that it is more important to concentrate on
one MC in the query.

I have two MC's, four humans, two magickers, two alien's and one angel. Five of them are actually MC's; but the big MC is the one who tells the story. The others are secondary and there is a cast of many minors. I can honestly say they all contribute to the story and help to drive the plot. I have introduced them in a way I hope is reader friendly. (Not making it so complicated it jerks the reader out of the story) Now I understand how beneficial it would be to only mention the narrator and not mix it up with all these other characters.

So thank you again. And my cohorts from the fairie realm would like to invite you to become an honorary fairie. :wink:

#34 Paul Dillon

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 12:56 PM

This is a great thread full of useful information. I've written my draft synopsis (which I'll post later today) with multiple POV. Next, my challenge will be to condense the synopsis into a query.




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